18
Jun

Facebook Hires the President of PayPal to Run Its Messaging Business

If anyone needed better indication of a solid management team and business plan at Facebook to support its high market valuation, they may have gotten the right message on June 9, 2014, when the company announced David Marcus, President of Paypal would join Facebook as VP of Messaging Products (http://newsroom NULL.fb NULL.com/news/2014/06/david-marcus-joins-facebook-as-vp-messaging-products/).

For a manager with Mr. Marcus’ stature to join Facebook, one can argue, the quality of the company’s business plan, as well as of its management team has become more compelling. But what may prove to be even more promising about this hire is the indication it provides of Facebook moving to take a commanding position in an otherwise unexpected market niche.

As I wrote earlier in this blog, Facebook appears to be the clear online marketing leader in the mobile market, ahead of Google. But what if Facebook’s long term interest in the mobile market is much more complex than it would, on the surface, otherwise seem to be, and not limited, simply, to online marketing? In other words, what if Facebook wants to win the biggest share of the mobile market to provide space for something else; for example, simply grafting the Facebook way of doing things onto a mobile computing engine, and let it take its own direction?

One can argue the latter objective, while certainly more ambiguous, would, nonetheless, pack a tremendous amount of potential. How to fuel the “Facebook way of doing things” in a mobile computing world? Financial services, of course, provide Facebook with a very wide range of tools to tap resources in a search for a lot of energy. Mr. Marcus will likely bring with him one of the best experience sets any manager could bring to this task. After all, PayPal has outperformed any other merchant services organization, not to mention a large number of commercial banks, for years.

Don’t forget Paypal’s roots as the first method consumers could implement to send payments anywhere. Facebook’s focus on emerging markets, together with its commitment to provide the tools required to transform people not connected to the Internet into paying consumers of networks and the applications running on top of them, makes much more sense with the former head of Paypal at the head of the messaging products business. All together, the addition of Mr. Marcus to the senior management team at Facebook looks like a very smart move and very promising for its future prospects.

Ira Michael Blonder (https://plus NULL.google NULL.com/108970003169613491972/posts?tab=XX?rel=author)

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

24
Jan

Can You Fast Track an Endorsement for Your Product by Hiring an Influential Person with an Address Book?

Technology businesses familiar with the positive impact that can be produced by winning the endorsement of an individual who is well respected in a market, often attempt to obtain comparable results by hiring staff members (usually for a sales role) who seem to know all the right people in a specific geography or market segment. This type of sales person is referred to as someone “with an address book.”

In a best case scenario for this strategy, prospects will gravitate towards a product based upon an endorsement from this sales person with an address book, who either “knows everyone” or looks as if she played a key role in a number of successful implementations of similar products for the same markets. In our experience, sales people with address books are generally no more productive than their peers. There a couple of reasons for the rather poor return on effort:

  • the hiring business failed to carefully review the contacts listed in the sales woman’s address book
  • or the sales woman did not actually play the project role that she should have played if she were to successfully deliver on her potential for the hiring business

In either case, it should be clear that obtaining the most benefit from hiring someone who looks like an influential party in a market depends upon thoroughly checking credentials, and really understanding the roles of individuals who will make purchase decisions on one’s product. Successfully implementing a background check can be a difficult task for a technology business that is new to a market, and otherwise unfamiliar with the information that must be collected to make an accurate call as to whether a candidate for the position can deliver on an investment, or not.

Simply put, if the contacts in an address book are to be useful, then they must be widely respected as individuals with a long history of successfully implementing comparable solutions for projects. Further, the candidate, herself, must be able to demonstrate, without a doubt, that she either sold the components to these decision-makers, or played a key role, herself, in the project, itself.

Often, the individual hired into one of these positions proves to simply have all the right names on her list, but not much more. Perhaps she worked alongside a successful colleague who actually closed the sales, or she played a role in the implementation of competitive products, but in a capacity far removed from the actual decision-makers. If either of these scenarios are at hand, the hiring business should pause to carefully consider the hire. Better to move slowly, for a right candidate, than to move quickly where there are clear gaps between what a candidate offers and your business requires.

Ira Michael Blonder (https://plus NULL.google NULL.com/108970003169613491972/posts?tab=XX?rel=author)

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

19
Nov

Early Stage Enterprise IT ISVs can plan on a Single Role for Head of Sales and Marketing

Enterprise IT ISvs can plan on combining responsibilities for marketing (including product marketing and marketing communications), and sales into one leadership position. In fact, it makes complete to implement this staffing strategy. The facts are that it is critically important that product marketing, communications, lead generation and sales move, almost in lock step through this early stage of growth. There is no better way to respect this requirement than to select one leader for both of these business functions.

The individual selected for this role should have first hand experience with all four sets of responsibilities. Individuals who can demonstrate past successful roles as a pitchman (http://www NULL.merriam-webster NULL.com/dictionary/pitchman) are usually worth consideration.

What’s special about a pitchman is that this type of sales person is very comfortable delivering presentations. Of course, marketing communications is all about branding, presentation and audience. Therefore, a pitchman who is adept at delivering presentations may also be comfortable producing them. If a sales person is identified who meets these criteria, then management should move quickly to interview and determine whether or not there is a fit, as this type of hiring opportunity seldom arises.

It is important to keep in mind that there are many types of presentations that can be suitable for pitchmen. An ability to produce high level presentations — meaning those presentations that communicate concepts, and, even, methodologies to business users who make purchase decisions — represents a skill that should be highly prized.

A hire for the position of head of sales and marketing must also be able to demonstrate an ability to deal with data for the purpose of performance analysis, etc. Usually an Excel whiz who can write macros and produce charts makes a good hire for this role.

Finally, a successful leader for these functions should be able to demonstrate past success managing teams of subordinates. Certainly, at an early stage a head of sales and marketing will be called on, personally, to at least contribute to closing business, if not close the deal him or herself. Nevertheless, as the business grows a head of sales will likely add additional staff; therefore, a good choice for the position is an individual who can demonstrate at least 10 years prior experience in this type of leadership role.

We do not advise bringing an individual into this role who may be a very strong individual contributor, but has little, if any experience leading teams. The rewards that motivate an individual contributor will not likely motivate a team leader, and vice versa.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

12
Sep

Online Web Page Visitor Analytics are Hard to Learn but Real Important

With so much riding on the effectiveness of web page content to deliver useful leads, (meaning engagement with visitors that can be developed into sales opportunities) it is mission-critical that enterprise IT ISVs exercise the required controls to monitor, manage and renovate web page content as required and on demand. Nevertheless many businesses continue to ignore this imperative, unfortunately, to their peril. In fact, we think it makes sense to include web site traffic management as a responsibility of marketing communications teams.

This imperative applies to core online marketing assets — meaning business web sites — as well as related social media assets where, ostensibly, engagement opportunities can be developed via other methods; for example, blog posts and subsequent comments, or Tweets and re Tweets, etc. In the case of social media assets, we think it makes sense to regard engagement, itself, as promotional content for which marketing communications has management responsibility.

The challenge is, of course, to find human resources capable of successfully delivering online engagement targets with the right editorial content and information architecture design. As well, these resources must be capable of successfully using online tools like Google Analytics (http://www NULL.google NULL.com/analytics/) to measure the effectiveness of online marketing efforts in terms of site visitor activity historical data. Usually, teams deep in creativity are hard-pressed to produce the methodical analytical expertise required to use these visitor activity tracking tools. Nevertheless, we think enterprise IT ISVs need to force the point as they look to staff up with the right individuals to deliver successful campaigns.

In fact, we find Google’s tool to be largely opaque and challenging. However, the fact that this tool is available at no cost for most users and, when mastered, is capable of producing so much useful information, more than outweighs any discomfort that we, or any other user, ought to have to face as its features and performance are mastered. When used in conjunction with a highly targeted click advertising campaign with, for example, Google’s Adwords service, an early stage business (or, for that matter, an established business that is, nevertheless, relegated to online obscurity as the result of ineffective MARCOM efforts) can establish engagement traction at a comparatively faster pace than would otherwise be the case.

If your team lacks the required talent to quickly move on a MARCOM effort that is, nevertheless, very important for you to successfully achieve, please consider contact us. IMB Enterprises, Inc. maintains a highly talented network of contacts, which we can call upon to match your requirements with the right individual to get your MARCOM job done. Our retained search services are offered on a monthly retainer basis of $3200.00 (3 month minimum commitment). Please call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion about how we can help you improve your return on investment in online promotion. You may also email Ira at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

11
Sep

Marketing Communications Expertise is in High Demand for the Enterprise IT Software Market

Much of the methodology implemented by the Google search engine to produce the linear, ranked results to search queries, as well as the methodology used by its competitors to produce similar results, is based upon analysis of text information found on web sites. This methodology, we argue, applies not only to how web site content is processed by Google’s famed algorithm, but, further, to how the actual authority of inbound linking web sites is established with regards to specific key word searches. This ranking methodology has been in use since the inception of Google as a search engine, meaning going back to the late 1990s. Needless to say, in today’s enterprise IT ISV market, the writers who produce all of this editorial content are experiencing high demand. Therefore, enterprise IT ISVs looking to staff up with these talented individuals should budget appropriately.

We do not see these surroundings changing anytime soon. Therefore, if the quality of marketing communications (MARCOM) content is a truly mission-critical factor for your business (we need to note that we are completely confident that a mission-critical role for MARCOM makes sense in today’s market), than plan accordingly. Taking the risk of missing the mark on a market message is not to be advised. As we have written extensively here in this blog, enterprise IT software buyers in 2012 are very much a new breed that is short on conversation, long on independent research, and not very open to outside opinion. Better get the right message to them than to risk a product launch that fails to generate “escape velocity.”

But hitting the mark does not need to mean an expensive series of acquisitions, that would necessarily include:

  1. Staffing up with a useful MARCOM expert
  2. Signing up with a SaaS lead management service like Marketo (http://www NULL.marketo NULL.com) or Hub Spot (http://www NULL.hubspot NULL.com)
  3. Commencing an online advertising campaign
  4. or an Ongoing Organic Search Optimization Program
  5. or, finally, an Integrated Direct Marketing effort

We think it is possible to make a right choice with #1, above, and then proceed to #s 3, 4, and 5. We think an enterprise IT ISV can skip #2 and still do very well as long as the choice of #1 is a “right” selection.

If you run an ISV business, you ought to look carefully into the quality of your current MARCOM content. We can help you put together a useful picture of how enterprise IT software buyers are receiving your content. We can also help you find the right individual for your MARCOM expert staffing requirement. Please call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion about our retained consulting services. Plans begin as low as $3200.00 per month (3 mos minimum). You may also email Ira at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

29
Aug

Enterprise IT Software Sales People Must be Comfortable Playing the Role of Facilitators

We very much like how the BusinessDictionary dot com web site defines the term “facilitator” (http://www NULL.businessdictionary NULL.com/definition/facilitator NULL.html). In fact, this definition illuminates not only the activities typical of facilitation, which include:

  • ensuring clear communication between members of a team, and
  • contributing to efforts to solve problems that arise as teams work on attaining objectives

but, further, the fact that the role of a facilitator is typical of the type of matrix organizational structure that we have talked about through prior entries to this blog.

This definition specifically posits that a facilitator “does not contribute to the actual content or management of a team’s project (which is a team leader’s function).” (quoted from the BusinessDictionary dot com web site page link cited above). In sum, a top enterprise IT software sales person in 2012 plays a leading role delivering on his/her objective to win the sale, but an invisible role, which the BusinessDictionary dot com web site refers to as serving as a “lubricant” — what we refer to as a matrix participant — in the prospect’s own project management process for the software product/service/integrated solution that is being considered for purchase, or, post purchase, for implementation.

Hopefully it will be clear to the reader that hiring managers in need of top sales talent for these enterprise IT software markets need individuals who have demonstrated an ability to modulate their activities, as required, to win the sale. Specifically, we mean individuals who are comfortable taking the lead, as appropriate, but who are also comfortable serving as a contributor to someone else’s leadership when objectives dictate this type of role.

All too often these same hiring managers are simply looking to recruit individuals who have succeeded at, what looks to be, the same job for other employers. Success is almost always simply defined as exceeding quota targets for some arbitrary number of years — usually a minimum of 3. Finally, the candidate should be widely known in the marketplace and come to the position with lots of contacts.

We think that hiring managers for enterprise IT ISVs who need sales people need to substantially change the skills and employment history criteria that they look for in candidates if they are to successfully hire the type of major contributors to business success that we think these individuals will need to be. Broadly speaking, much more emphasis must be placed on the likely flexibility of an individual, meaning his/her ability to adapt to serving in different capacities, as required, in order to deliver, successfully, a valuable sale or, over time, revenue targets for the business.

If you cannot afford to hire the wrong person for the sales or marketing opening at your company, please contact IMB Enterprises, Inc. We look forward to collaborate with enterprise IT ISVs that face an imperative to change sales and marketing methods to successfully align with their markets. Please call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion about our retained search services. You may also email Ira at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

28
Aug

The Importance of an Ability to Persuade is Diminished for Successful Enterprise IT Software Sales in 2012

Successful enterprise IT sales teams, in 2012, make heavy use of 3 skills:

  • an ability to rapidly qualify prospects
  • an ability to serve as a facilitator for prospects
  • and, finally, patience to maintain a role over, typically, very long and, occasionally, circuitous sales cycles

In contrast, skills which, in the past, were prized, for example:

  • a dominant personality capable of persuading prospects
  • an ability to overcome a wide range of prospect objections
  • an underlying skepticism about prospects, their objectives and intentions

no longer promise the enviable sales results that were the case merely 20 years ago. It is important to note, however, that the strongest motivator for most top sales people remains compensation; the most successful methods of satisfying this motivator — meaning an ability to qualify, facilitate and endure — have simply evolved over time.

In 2012, it makes more sense for lead generation efforts at these companies to be crafted to deliver a more mature set of sales leads than was the case in the past. In fact, the method of timing the enterprise IT software sale has shifted, radically. Today’s prospects usually choose to engage with sales personnel at a much later point in their quest for IT software solutions. The good news that has accompanied this shift is that the likelihood of sales personnel closing business with this type of prospect (who appears much later in the sales cycle) is much higher, not so much as the result of their own efforts, as due to the fact that the prospect has largely made up his or her mind by the time an opportunity to engage manifests itself.

Building useful sales opportunities from integrated direct marketing efforts is a wholly separate matter. The sales cycle for leads developed through a coordinated campaign, which includes sending specific individuals promotional written collateral via an email, or a mailing, together with a carefully coordinated telemarketing effort is, generally, much longer. Prospects require sales personnel who can genuinely participate in their process, meaning walk along side while these prospects take the steps required in their unique enterprise situation to decide on not only solutions, but, in many cases, what problems, themselves, (meaning pain pints) are all about. Successful sales personnel, once again will serve as facilitators, who will spend lots of time listening to prospects, and, occasionally, illuminating important information that might otherwise be lost within a complex set of factors.

There is little, if any, benefit to be had from pushing, persuading, battling and, finally, leading these prospects anywhere. Further, in our experience, a dominant sales personality will have little, if any patience with the very long process that can come to characterize a prospect’s inquiry into a solution for a problem that has not yet coalesced into something worth doing anything about.

If your organization needs to add a different, and more effective set of enterprise IT sales personnel, please consider IMB Enterprises, Inc.

We can be a powerful resource that can identify, promote and recruit the type of talent you require, meaning enterprise IT software sales personnel that can succeed at the job. Please call Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion about our retained search services. You may also email Ira at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

25
May

Look for Sales Personnel who Engage with Hesitance but Plan Methodically

Innovative technology businesses marketing software to enterprise organizations will do well to hire sales personnel with specific personality traits that have been shown to be conducive to selling complex solutions. Earlier in this blog we spent sometime discussing one of these personality traits — an ability to facilitate information gathering through conversations with contacts. Here we’d like to expand on this personality profile with two other character traits:

  • an ability to research and plan activities thoroughly prior to engaging with prospects
  • an aversion for reactive engagement with prospects

Selling Complex Solutions Requires Preliminary Research and Planning

Candidates with extensive educational experience in academic research make good candidates for complex sales jobs. These people understand how to utilize resources like the Internet to locate information about specific sales prospects. As well, these people have experience planning complex presentations — written and oral — that will likely be required throughout an engagement with a prospect. Finally, well educated candidates are generally comfortable with all types of communication and, therefore, can be counted upon to further promising conversations with contacts. We recommend keeping a lookout for candidates with an academic background in the Humanities who also present a strong understanding of computer science.

We worked with one client in the early 1990s who successfully recruited highly valuable personnel from MIT who, interestingly enough, spent most of their academic careers working with theater. These personnel were perfect for our client’s products which, back then, including Remedy’s Action Request System, Autosys, and, later, CheckPoint FireWall 1.

A Tendency to Engage Slowly with Contacts is Preferred

While reactive personality types are highly useful in entrepeneurial environments where decisions have to be made “on the fly,” they are not very useful for selling complex solutions. Of course, stumbling upon a rare person who can combine quick problem solving with a methodical, calculated approach to engaging with prospects should not be passed up. However, in our experience such a combination is very much a “blue rhino” type of find and far from the norm. We think businesses will do better to sacrifice quick problem solving for a tendency to slowly and carefully enter into interpersonal engagement. Complex selling is definitely the type of activity where it is far better to be the last to the party than the first.

If you are staffing your business with sales personnel and require a strong ability with complex sales, we’d like to hear from you. Please telephone Ira Michael “Mike” Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

17
May

Select Sales Professionals Who can Manage Prospects and Customers

It is essential that enterprise sales personnel keep early stage conversations with prospects on track. The cliche “the customer is always right” is, quite often, dead wrong. In fact, most prospects are unclear about what they are looking for. Further, prospects in the role of decision-makers are usually very comfortable engaging with other personnel from a position of authority. These people almost always assume an authoritative posture when dealing with sales people. Therefore, sales personnel selected by an innovative tech business to lead enterprise sales efforts must have the type of personality to normally engage with decision-makers, regardless of any authoritative stance that the other party in the conversation may appear to assume.

Further, the best enterprise sales personnel will avoid any type of reactive posturing when engaging with decision-makers. For these personalities, it is strictly SOP to keep on track despite efforts on the part of the other party in the conversation to veer dangerously off the road to, for example, obtain merely a price quote, or to simply jump to a proposal without any useful information about needs or solutions that may or may not be relevant. The fact is that the personality type of these sales personnel lends itself to this type of engagement with prospects. When a bullying prospect acts like wrecking ball these sales personalities mysteriously vaporize, which lets the wrecking ball, harmlessly, swing wildly in empty air.

It is important to understand that permitting conversations to go off track at a very early stage in the prospect development process almost always leads to very low probability opportunities. As these low probability opportunities stack up, sales personnel may be very hard at work, but the work they are expending will almost always fall into very early stage prospect qualification.

In order to move forward prospect engagements must be kept strictly on track. Without meaningful information that your product/service/integrated solution can satisfy some important need there is absolutely no point whatsoever jumping into presentations or, worse, pricing and proposals. Prospects who refuse to participate in an information gathering process that affords all parties an opportunity to determine whether or not it makes sense to continue a discussion are simply not worth the time. Very often it makes sense to prune closed up prospects from sales campaigns. But some of the time analysis will show that a lack of information supporting prospect engagement must be directly attributed to sales personnel who can’t keep discussions on track. In these cases businesses must make a change if revenue targets are to be hit.

We welcome opportunities to engage with companies looking to add the right sales personnel to handle their selling needs. You may telephone Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved

9
May

Converging Roles: Enterprise Software Sales Personnel and Facilitators

Increasingly, models of highly successful enterprise software sales talent are diverging from the traditional stereotypical sales person. Yesterday’s emphasis sales people with thick skins, who can take over a crowd, dripping high energy and the like is long gone. Now, the highly desirable personality type is a modern version of the personality included in M.C. Escher’s “Hand with Reflecting Sphere” (http://www NULL.mcescher NULL.com/Gallery/ital-bmp/LW268 NULL.jpg), a studious type who is “all ears”, ever attentive to prospects, self critical and self motivating, with a memory to match. This personality type operates in a pronounced methodical and subdued manner. Finally, the best examples of this personality type are entirely well adjusted individuals who have overcome most of their neuroses; they can be trusted to correctly field outburst from prospects and customers without messy unconscious reactions getting in the way of progressing the deal.

It does not take much consideration to realize that good candidates for a career in enterprise software sales will be few and very hard to come by. Nevertheless, given the temper of our times we think that our brief description of the personality type rings true. Enterprise software sales has become highly complex and fragile. Assertive personalities (the traditional stereotype) that border on aggressive have a very difficult time succeeding in this marketplace. The early stages of enterprise sales opportunities are characterized by sales personnel make lots of effort to play the role of facilitator with prospects, to create venues and conversations that will afford prospects an opportunity to freely offer credible information. Of course, sales personnel must exercise some leadership through these early opportunities to engage with prospects, but the specific type of leadership required is, once again, very much the leadership demonstrated by facilitators (even therapists) who collect lots of information while strictly refraining from presenting products, solutions, etc.

We think it is incumbent for management at early stage businesses selling enterprise software to burn this personality type into memory and to hire appropriately. Certainly there are talented individuals who may demonstrate an understanding of the importance of these features, but fall short of a display of the precise personality combination who can succeed at this game, but they will need to be coached along for some period of time prior to producing meaningful results.

If you find our position on this point to be plausible and care to speak directly with us about your interest, please do let us know. Please contact Ira Michael Blonder at +1 631-673-2929 to further a discussion. You may also email Mike at imblonder@imbenterprises.com.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved